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Should Your School Invest in Better Wellness Programs?

Posted by Lori Reese on Mar 7, 2018 5:30:00 AM
Topics: Higher Ed, retention, enrollment, student success

The short answer: Yes. Research shows stellar fitness facilities and school wellness programs attract students and entice them to stay. Kids entering college now are more health conscious than ever. Generation Z — those born between 1995 and 2010 — has been targeted with public health campaigns detailing the horrors of obesity from a young age. They won’t want to attend a college that will derail efforts at good health begun in high school or earlier.

Should Your School Invest in Better Wellness Programs?

If Gen Z’s documented health-consciousness is not enough reason to consider giving your wellness offerings a revamp, then take a look at the stats. The National Intramural and Recreational Sport Association (NIRSA) conducted a nationwide survey of college students in 2014 that produced impressive results about the impact of wellness facilities and programs on enrollment.  

  • 94% of surveyed students said maintaining a healthy lifestyle was important to them before they enrolled in school.
  • 68% of surveyed students said that recreational facilities influenced their decision to choose one college over another.
  • 62% of students said campus wellness programs influenced their college choice.

School wellness programs and retention

So, a fancy gym and a nutritionally-conscious dining hall menu can help your school stand out. What does it do for students who are already enrolled? Those stats are even more impressive.

  • 79% of surveyed students said they visited the campus gym at least once a week.
  • 90% of those who went to the gym stayed for at least 30 minutes.
  • 74% said campus recreational facilities influenced their choice to stay in a particular school.

How could exercise and nutrition have such a huge impact on student retention? Take a look at the benefits students said they experienced.

  • 91% said that exercise improves their overall sense of wellbeing.
  • 86% said nutrition and exercise helps them manage stress.
  • 75% said wellness efforts boost their concentration.
  • 68% said participating in recreational activities helps them feel like they belong.
  • 68% said engaging in regular exercise improves their academic performance.

Concentration, well-being, friendship and reduced stress: Freshman algebra may be important, but it will never boast those outcomes. While we can’t easily predict what workforce skills will be needed in decades to come, we can safely bet that interest in health and wellbeing among young adults will increase.

The healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss economy is worth $648 billion globally, according to Forbes. A good portion of those dollars is spent on Gen Z and the generation that comes after them, the Alpha babies.

Companies like Raised Real©, Yummy Spoonfuls© and Nurture Life© are tapping into the multibillion-dollar nutrition economy with flash-frozen, grass-fed, whole-food offerings for babies, toddlers, kids and teens. The goal: train children’s palates early so they develop a life-long preference for healthy meals. It won’t be long before the days of dining hall pizza, tater tots and soda are gone for good.

Goldey-Beacom College

About Lori Reese

Lori Reese has more than 15 years’ experience teaching in college and K-12 classrooms. She studied philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, earned an MA in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University and an MFA from University of North Carolina - Greensboro. At UNCG she won the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award and received a Fulbright to conduct research for a novel in Sri Lanka. She has taught undergraduate creative writing, composition and literature as well as seminars for the Lloyd International International Honors Program. She worked in private K-12 education for two years as an English teacher and Academic Dean.

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